As I came down the stairs I heard somebody moaning in the general vicinity of the kitchen.
What the hell is going on, I wondered?
Standing over the kitchen island, eyes closed, murmuring to himself is my spouse.
With a half-eaten jar of pickles in his hand.
"Oh my God, these are so good."
"Good," he said, as if I didn’t hear him the first time through the mouthful of pickles. "My mom would have loved these, these are soooo good. What are they?"
Just bread and butter pickles. Pickles and peppers from our garden, and some big sweet onions from the farmers’ market, with some extra garlic.
That was a week ago. He’s eaten another jar since then. I don’t think I’ve made enough to make it through the winter, at this rate of consumption.
Try them yourself, they’re easy to make. But you’d better do it soon if you live in northern climes as hard frosts will take out the rest of the pickle crop over the next couple of weeks.
Oh, and as for the pickle prep: I used my old Salad Shooter to slice the pickles. It made short work of the small pickles, although some of the larger diameter cukes had to be sliced in half lengthwise before I could put them through the machine. The same guy who glutted himself on pickles was pretty skeptical about the thickness of the pickle slices; he thought they’d be too thin to be crisp. Obviously not a problem at all.
Bread and Butter Pickles
25 pickling cucumbers, sliced thin
2 large onions, peeled and sliced thin
2 sweet or bell peppers, sliced or chopped bite-sized or smaller
3 cloves garlic, minced finely
1/2 cup pickling salt
3 cups cider vinegar
5 cups white sugar
2 TBSP. mustard seed
1 1/2 tsp. celery seed
1/2 tsp. whole cloves
1 TBSP. ground turmeric
1 TBSP. red pepper flakes (OPTIONAL – add if you like sweet-and-spicy)
1. Place prepared vegetables into a large bowl. Sprinkle the salt over the vegetables and toss together gently until salt has been evenly incorporated. Let stand approximately 3 hours.
Wash and prep jars and lids for canning.
2. About 20 minutes before the vegetables have finished brining, pour the cider vinegar, white sugar, mustard seed, celery seed, whole cloves and turmeric into a large pot. The pot must big enough for all of the vegetables. Bring the vinegar-sugar-spice mixture to a boil and then turn down to a simmer.
Sterilize jars and lids in boiling water and have at the ready; prepare hot water bath canner.
3. Drain the salty liquid from the vegetables; rinse the vegetables with very cold water three times to remove excess salt, then drain the vegetables thoroughly in a large colander. (The colder the water, the better as it will ensure the cuke slices retain their crispness. Add ice to the water if necessary.)
Gently stir drained vegetables into the boiling vinegar-sugar-spice mixture. Turn up heat, stirring gently; turn down heat to warm just before vegetables reach boiling point.
4. Ladle hot pickle mixture into sterilized jars, leaving 1/2 inch head room. Seal and process in hot water bath for 30 minutes.
[Cross-posted at Rayne Today; photos by Rayne.]